From Sydney to Shahroud

During the months of spring — although it is technically autumn here in Australia — Sydney has these beautiful Jacaranda trees that turn entirely purple. All you see from a distance is this painting of greens with purple spots. In the mornings, sitting in the train on the way to work, I look out the window and I see snap shots of Shahroud.

In the summer of 1374 (1995) we went on a trip to Shahroud. We were on our way back to Tehran from a trip to Gorgan and Mashhad. Driving on the “Silk Road”, we passed cities and karvansaras. Our daughter Nastaran was eight-years old and usually slept in the back seat of the car. As we would approach a karvansara, she would get up and jump out of the car toward the old ruins.

She is a cautious child. I don't know what it was about those ancient relics that interested her so much to the point of brevity. Or maybe I do know. I watched her going through the gate of a karvansara as I imagined travelers going in to rest for the night.

I again see the Jacaranda trees as they are surrounded by greens. The images take me to a view of Shahroud from the tomb of Aboulhassan Kharghani, a Sufi, in the village of Ghal-eh Nokharghan, about half an hour from Shahroud.

Shahroud is surrounded by greens and further on by mountains. It is so “Iran” – like a poem. At one level it is like a few words with meaning attached to it, at other levels the context and connections bring out the true meaning. Shahroud's surrounding nature, its simple urban structure and the history that it carries, are in such harmony and peace.

Bayazid Bastami's grave is close to the city. A simple stone with a monument built next to it. The story is that Bastami wished to rest in a simple grave. As you walk into the area, the simple grave stone is the center of attraction, not the monument built during the Moghol era.

The mehmansara is above a hill with a view of a small park. Nastaran challenges a local boy her age to play with her, as we sit to absorb the centuries that have gone by in Shahroud. The last snapshot is of the stars, as they bear witness to all this.

I have seen different parts of Iran and I have a list of favorites but somehow Shahroud stands out as a Jacaranda among other beautiful trees. When I get to the office, I make myself a cup of coffee to make the necessary switch, then start working.

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